Once there was a princess. Her name was Amelia.
She lived in a not so far off land with her father and mother, the King and Queen, who were generally beloved by the populace - mainly because they were fairly ordinary, and did things like take budget flights instead of the Royal Jet to make sure they didn't squeeze the economy. People tend to appreciate value for money I have found, and these two were right on top of budgeting.
Her three older sisters on the other hand...
Let's just say that if you combined Elizabeth Taylor's love of very large rocks with Imelda Marcos' shoe habit - you wouldn't even touch the sides. As far as they were concerned, Princess equalled PRINCESS in bold and with flashing lights in case someone missed the point. They were not interested in anything much besides shopping, more shopping and waiting for a prince with a black AmEx to whisk them away to a larger castle with better closet space.
Amelia though - well, Amelia was a little bit...
She didn't look peculiar. She didn't sound peculiar. Everyone thought she was a lovely girl - certainly much nicer than the Shopaholics - uh, I mean her siblings. She just didn't seem to quite fit in, and nobody could really put their finger on it - even her parents, much as they loved her, found it easier to deal with large credit card bills, and getting the royal carpenters in to put up new shoe racks, rather than address what was going on with Princess Number 4.
Amelia herself though - she knew exactly what the issue was. And she was finding it harder and harder to hide her 'totally bizarre weirdness' as her delightful eldest sister Prunella called it.
Princess A had very vivid dreams. This wasn't the totally bizarre weird part however - many people have startlingly 'real' dreams and are none the worse for it, other than a tendency to grin stupidly during the day if it was a particularly enjoyable one. No - the TBW was this;
Amelia's dreams were starting to come true.
It began when she turned twenty-one. The night before her birthday, she dreamt that the next day, Morcilla (she got off lightly with Amelia, didn't she?), sister number two, was going to throw an enormous tanty when she saw Amelia's birthday present and insist that it be given to her. As it was a vintage Mercedes convertible, Amelia wasn't too keen on this idea (hey, she may not have been a shopping addict, but the girl was only human) and told Morcilla if she touched a finger to the paintwork, her hand would be permanently stuck to it until she promised to never, ever go near it again.
And this is exactly what happened. Morcilla went berkers, Amelia said her piece - and suddenly an errant finger was attached to the bonnet. Shrieks, tears and a grudging promise later - the finger was removed and Amelia was sitting in a corner glugging champagne out of terror (and quiet enjoyment) at what had just happened.
A few more similar incidents occurred, mostly involving her sisters and their love of shiny objects. Amelia would dream a scenario, and within a few days - hey presto, it happened. Whilst this had a certain good side effect of making her sisters leave her (and her possessions) alone, Amelia was petrified that one night, she would dream something which ended up hurting someone badly - and so she stopped sleeping.
No person, let alone a princess who spent most of her time in surrounding kingdoms on diplomatic duties, can go without sleep. Things go wrong when there's tiredness involved, such as promising the next door country the profits from the year's beet crop (big bucks - they loved their beets in that part of the world). And eventually, as she was strap-hanging on the Fly Cheap, Fly Standing! flight home after the Beet Incident of '03... her eyes closed.
And she started to dream.
This one wasn't about shoes, or cars, or grabby sisters. This one - well, this one was a nightmare. The land was on fire. Her parents were held by very large men with very large weapons - her father had been hit and was bleeding. Her sisters were also in the same situation, but even nightmares have some moments of levity. And there was a man with a cruel, hard face, in a very ostentatious uniform, who said to Amelia 'this is all your doing - after all, you dreamt it, didn't you?'
She woke up on the floor of the plane, with her bodyguards trying frantically to work out why she was screaming.
And so it was back to insomnia. Until two weeks later.
When the kingdom was attacked.
They came from nowhere - moving swiftly and silently. The cities were surrounded by tanks and insanely complicated weaponry. Amelia's family were dragged from the palace in the middle of the night, and it was all just as she had dreamed it would be. She struggled, and fought (and took quite a few men out - just saying) - but eventually she was face to face with General Despicable from her dream. He slapped her, which was totally unnecessary but showed the kind of ratbrain he was.
'Tell your parents to send out a notice of surrender, or I will kill your entire family - and it will be your fault, Princess Amelia' he said, with a faint smile.
'What did you do to me?' she asked very bravely.
'Oh, the standard evil fairy thing - when you were born, got her to put a curse on you, yada yada yada' he replied, yawning and examining his seriously long nails (yuck). 'She guaranteed that eventually you would dream something which would allow me to take over - and I am delighted to say, she didn't lie. I killed her anyway, but I do like value for money'.
'And by the way', he added 'apparently the curse is unbreakable - you will always dream the truth. Bad luck there.'
Amelia looked around at her parents, her sobbing sisters, and listened to the gunfire and terror surrounding them. And she realised there was only one thing to do.
She put all of her love for her family and her country into her thoughts - and fell asleep. She vaguely heard and felt the General screaming at her to wake up and shaking her, but she was determined to sleep, perchance to dream.
And dream she did. She dreamt of her parents. She dreamt of the beet crops (I told you she was weird). She even dreamt of her sisters, who for once hugged and kissed her instead of stealing her shoes. She dreamt of every good thing she could... and finally, she dreamt a dead General and a defeated army.
And she opened her eyes and smiled, because she had dreamed her own truth.
The army was gone. The General was a cloud of dust at her feet. And the kingdom and her family were safe. It may have been a curse, but who exactly had the curse been on? Those evil fairies sometimes aren't quite as evil as they look, you know.
The country rejoiced. Her parents were back in fiduciary charge. Amelia went back to dreaming of - well, just normal dreams - there may have been a prince somewhere in there, but that's her business. And her sisters...
Let's just say they developed a healthy respect for not touching other princesses' property.
Dream a little dream.